Fundamentals of Research Ethics for Investigators

Course Description:

Fundamentals of Research Ethics is normally presented as a one-day course providing the basic principles of research ethics and is suitable for investigators (including residents, fellows and other trainees) and research associates.  The training draws from authoritative sources including the Tri-Council Policy Statement, which primarily governs the conduct of academic research in Canada. The course is practical and focuses on how to prepare a research protocol that meets established research ethics standards.  It also provides valuable guidance on submitting a protocol to the Research Ethics Board and receiving timely review and approval.  The course includes both lively presentations and interactive discussion with case examples drawn from 18 years of experience serving on REBs in Canada and the US.  

Brief Summary of Course Content:

  • The course opens with an overview of the history of research ethics to give context to its fundamental justification and its requirements and guidelines.  Drawing upon this historical context, the course gives an overview of the conceptual underpinning and foundational values of research ethics, autonomy, welfare and justice.
  • Participants review a “mock protocol” (distributed in advance) that exposes a broad range of difficult ethical issues arising in a fictional study.
  • Next is a review of basic research ethics guidelines focusing on: the scope of REB review, and the basic requirements and guidelines for consent, risk/benefit analysis, inclusion in research, confidentiality, and proportional review.
  • Following is a discussion of strategies and techniques for effectively preparing protocols for REB review.
  • The final section provides an overview of particular issues and specialized types of research identified by participants and reflecting their research interests and needs.


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